It's About Time...

Not unlike Netflix, my baking aspirations are arranged into a bit of an ad hoc queue. Whenever I find a recipe that strikes my fancy, I file it away to bake when the time is right. Sometimes, things make it to the top of the list right away, like the lemon poppy seed cookies that were needed to fill the citrus slot in this year's Cookie Bonanza. Some recipes, however, lurk on the list for eons, waiting patiently for their time in the spotlight.

This recipe for Chocolate-Caramel Thumbprints has been percolating in the back of my mind since last Christmas, when I spotted it on a blog. Since I already had a nutty cookie, and a chocolately cookie in my 2009 lineup, I didn't feel that it was right for that year, and it didn't really fit my lineup this year either, but I felt almost guilty about letting it languish on the list for yet another twelve months, so I decided to take advantage of my unexpectedly quiet weekend to whip up a batch.

As it turned out, it was a good thing that I had so much spare time to devote to these cookies, as their preparation turned out to be excessively time consuming. From the time it took to make and chill the dough, painstakingly form them and roll them in nuts, to making the caramel filling and placing it carefully in each cookie, this recipe just wasn't worth all the effort. Sure, they look spectacular. However, the flavor is just mediocre. The chocolate cookie could use a much more intense boost of flavor, and the caramel centers could seriously benefit from a bit of fleur de sel.

For all of the labor involved in making them, I expected them to taste a bit more special, and a bit less cloying. If your preferences lean toward the simple, and you have some extra time on your hands, I might consider recommending these cookies to you, but as it is, I think you'd be much better served by a variety of other cookie recipes I've featured here at "The State I Am In."

Chocolate-Caramel Thumbprints
adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

1 egg
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
16 vanilla caramels, unwrapped
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 1/4 c. finely chopped pecans

1. Separate egg; place yolk and white in separate bowls. Cover and chill egg white until needed. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scrapping sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla until combined. Beat in the flour mixture. Cover and chill dough about 2 hours or until easy to handle.
3. Preheat oven to 350.
4. Lightly beat reserved egg white. Shape dough into 1-inch bowls. Roll balls in egg white, then in pecans to coat. Place balls 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using the rounded end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
5. Bake 10 minutes or until edges are firm. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
6. In a small saucepan, heat and stir caramels and whipping cream over low heat until smooth. Spoon melted caramel mixture into cookie centers. If necessary, reheat caramel mixture to keep it spoonable. Allow cookies to cool completely before consuming.

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